Li Huabei waited quietly with his sword brandished in ones of the abandoned brick factories situated in the suburbs of Shangbei. A small and plumpy man was down on the ground in front of him, with dust, dirt and resignation all over his face and sword wounds on his limbs He stared at Li Huaibei venomously. “Even if I did agree to become your blade spirit, you wouldn’t even be able to last until the end of the domain.” The fat man spat out between two quick gasps for air.
“I’m leaving right after I get my blade spirit.” Li Huaibei answered calmly.
“You can do that?” The chunky man stared at Li Huaibei in disbelief. ‘According to the rules, after a domain has been opened, all links with the outside world should be cut, and no one is able to leave before its ending, unless…’
“Being a sage does come with its favors from Heaven’s Laws.”
“I knew it! So the sudden change in this domain is all because of you?” The fat asked, visibly shocked. He could feel that was wrong and the domain was not progressing as it should have.
“It’s not me. Someone else is responsible for it.” Li Huaibei turned his head and looked at the horizon. “Have you decided, Di Jiang? I don’t have much time left.”
“Why me?” Di Jiang was curious about that “someone else” Li Huaibei had mentioned, but the more pressing issue was his own fate. Unlike a beast summon, if he decides to become Li Huaibei blade spirit, he would forever relinquish his freedom.
“I’ll be honest with you, at first I chose Bi Fang. But there has been a little… complication, so I searched for you instead,” Li Yiming answered.
“Bi Fang? But he’s a fire-type beast, and I’m a water-type. How can we be used for the same purpose? You…”
“All I need is your level. I don’t care much about the rest,” Li Huaibei said. He was still calm and composed, but his pale countenance and the beads of sweat on his forehead betrayed his underlying weakness.
“What? What do you want? “ Di Jiang could not understand Li Huaibei. ‘ The Soul Weapon is the object that is the culmination of one’s talent and has all of the guardian’s strength sealed within it. How can he be this careless?’
“You don’t need to know for now.”
“Are you going to leave as soon as you’re done with me? You’re not staying for the rewards of the domain?” Di Jiang asked again.
“I’m not here for the rewards, I have no need for them. I came here for the purpose of my blade spirit.”
Di Jiang mulled over the choice he was forced to make. ‘This man, there’s no doubt he’s sage level. I can see the gravity of his wounds and how weak he is, yet he was still able to defeat me. Sage…’
“Alright, I accept.” Di Jiao decided. He could tell that Li Huaibei walked a straight path as a guardian and committed no evil from his temperament; Following Li Huaibei’s lead was probably going to be better than risking it all for the sake of dignity, which had very little practical use anyways. ‘Maybe something good will come out of this decision.’
“Thank you for your trust.” Li Huaibei smiled. He slowly released the fingers around the hilt of his sword, and the weapon flew toward Di Jiang.
Di Jiang closed his eyes and steadied his breath. His fat body quickly shrunk and turned into a ball of pale blue light that merged with the steel of the blade. Ripples of light ran down the edge of Li Huaibei’s sword, and the weapon itself emitted a light buzzing noise from a violent trembling. The picture of a round beast with four wings and six feet gradually appeared on the weapon. 1
Rosiness climbed into Li Huaibei’s cheeks. His eyes seemed brighter than ever. He took back his weapon and looked in the direction of Shangbei’s downtown. “You’ll have to face the changes you’ve brought upon alone. I hope that you’ll live until that day…”
* * *
Liu Meng sat on the sofa with flushed cheeks, still pretending that she was somewhat angry with Li Yiming about the incident earlier. Li Yiming tried his best to not look at her and tried to have a serious discussion with Qing Linglong about their plans for the next few days. Eyeglasses listened to it all carefully and would occasionally interject, offering his own take on the issue, but, more than anything, his eyes wandered from Li Yiming to Liu Meng, and back to Li Yiming. He tried his best to suppress his curiosity. Qing Qiaoqiao did not seem to care about the conversation at all; instead, she was playing games on her phone, but Li Yiming could tell that she was paying attention to them, and to Liu Meng in particular, from the occasional sneaky glance.
It was an atmosphere that did not seem appropriate for the dangerous domain they were in at all.
“Nine days. In nine days, we’re going to be done,” Eyeglasses sighed. Although he was talking about a deadline that was soon going to come, for him, the fight extended way beyond nine days.
“Don’t be so worried. I’ve heard that a lot of guardian equipment have special effects, and maybe we’ll even be able to find one that will allow you to keep only the benefits of vampirism.” Qing Linglong understood Eyeglasses worries; to be unable to see the sun ever again and to have to resort to feeding on human blood were no easy things to endure.
“Vampire?” Liu Meng said. Girls of her age had a natural curiosity and interest in the word “vampire”.
“He…” Li Yiming was worried that Liu Meng would ask an insensitive question, so he rushed to explain what had happened with Eyeglasses and the vampiric serum.
“Ah?” After hearing the story, Liu Meng ignored Li Yiming’s reminder and the circumstances that forced Eyeglasses’ sad choice. “So you’re going to stay young forever now?” She asked with eyes glittering with interest.
“Yeah, that’s not going to happen. I think you’ve watched too many TV dramas. I’m just a monster that feeds on human blood for survival now.” Eyeglasses smiled in self-derision, but he did seem happy about receiving Liu Meng’s praise and idol-like worship.
“Do things like that really exist?” Li Yiming looked at Liu Meng, a little unhappy that she had ignored his warning, but the latter stared back fiercely to mean that she still held a grudge for what happened earlier.
“I think so. Guardian equipments are just like our talents, there are many kinds, so I’m sure that we’ll be able to find a cure,” Qing Linglong answered without a serious countenance.
“That’s true. We found a bracelet that can cure cancer if you wear it,” Liu Meng said.
“Cure cancer?” Qing Linglong was a little surprised. ‘I didn’t know guardians could get cancer.’
“It’s a level one restoration technique.” Li Yiming knew that mentioning the bracelet was a mistake. He glanced at Liu Meng, who understood the message and shrugged her shoulders instead of answering Qing Linglong.
‘Bai Ze!’ Li Yiming hurriedly called out. He stood up and pretended to be simply going to the balcony for some fresh air.
‘What is it now? Don’t you know that I’m still recovering?’ Bai Ze sounded a little annoyed.
‘Can guardian equipments be used by normal people?’ Li Yiming remembered the deputy director who had bought the jade bracelet from him.
‘What kind of question is that?. Of course not! If normal people were able to use guardian equipment, wouldn’t that mean that you can just mass-produce a superhuman army with objects alone? What’s the use for guardians then?’ Bai Ze sounded like she was frustrated by Li Yiming’s borderline idiotic question.
‘But I had something that could be used by a normal person.’ He had also given some thought to what Bai Ze said, and the more he thought about it, the more worried he became when he realized the implications of that almost meaningless incident.
‘What?’ By now, Bai Ze could tell that Li Yiming was not joking around. She was surprised, but more concerned than anything else.
“Yiming!” Liu Meng joined him on the balcony.
“Look!” Liu Meng was so close to Li Yiming that it looked like she was flirting with him, which irritated Qing Qiaoqiao quite a bit. In fact, she was actually positioning herself in a way so that only she and Li Yiming could read what was displayed on her cellphone.
Li Yiming looked at the screen. It was a news feed application with an article that did not seem to be very important. ‘The deputy director of Shangbei Historical Museum recovers miraculously from cancer.’
“It’s him.” Li Yiming knew that this was bad news for him. A picture of the old man Ye was included in the article. He waved his right hand at the camera, and the jade and gold bracelet was prominently put on display.
“You’re saying that…?” Bai Ze looked at Li Yiming, overwhelmed by what she just saw.
‘I sold him the bracelet. He had terminal cancer.” Li Yiming stared blankly at the screen: he realized that he might have done something stupid.
“Are you serious? That’s an exploit… I can’t believe it worked…” Bai Ze was at a loss for words.
“What should we do now?”
“What else? Try and get the item back! If others hear about this, you’ll be done for. The other guardians will get you before Heaven’s Law and try to dissect you or something.”
“Yiming?” Liu Meng was worried. She knew from Li Yiming’s hint earlier that there were complications, so she came to Li Yiming soon after seeing the news article.
“I’m fine. Come with me.” Li Yiming picked up Liu Meng’s hand and walked back into the room.
“Something came up. We need to go out,” Li Yiming looked at his other friends in the room and said calmly.
“Only the two of you?” Qing Linglong frowned. ‘He’s picking now out of all moments to go out alone? Is he serious?’
“Yes, we have some… private matters.” Li Yiming squeezed the hand he held slightly, and Liu Meng leaned closer to him, resuming the role someone blinded by love and the joy of being reunited.
“Hmmpf!” Qing Qiaoqiao snorted in discontent and left for the bedroom.
Qing Linglong’s was speechless at Li Yiming’s sudden decision. ‘What? He doesn’t look like someone with bad priorities. Are you telling me that the reason he was so fixated on finding Liu Meng was for this? Seriously?’
Eyeglasses, however, sympathized a lot more with Li Yiming. He knew just how much pressure being in a domain caused, so it was understandable that Li Yiming would want to blow off some steam. In fact, he thought it was quite smart for Li Yiming to go somewhere else to do what he wanted to do: with Qing Qiaoqiao present, the whole thing might turn into a civil war.
“Be careful. Unless you absolutely need to leave, just stay inside until I come back. I’ll return soon.” Li Yiming exhorted his three friends, a little worried about what could happen during his absence.
“He’s going off to have ‘fun’ alone, and we’re stuck here? What a way to be a captain.” Qing Qiaoqiao rushed to the living room right after Li Yiming closed the room and complained sourly. “And she looked so serious just a moment ago. True nature shows, what a fox!”
“I’ll go set up a defensive perimeter then.” Eyeglasses escaped into his own room. ‘Well, if nothing else, at least this shows that he made the right decision indeed.’
‘Lust? Is that really what he has in mind?’ Qing Linglong looked at the front door and frowned deeply.
Li Yiming: “I think I did something stupid.”
Me: “hmmmpf, you don’t say…” xD
1. For a feeling of how that looks like https://www.deviantart.com/tag/dijiang, but seriously what on Earth is that. 0.0
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